Sunday, June 16, 2013

A How To . . . Use A Marketing Plan to Conduct a Better Job Search

So many companies!  So many people to contact!  So many meetings to attend and network.  
How do you keep it all straight?  
     With a plan . . . a Job Search Marketing Plan.
Your marketing plan creates order out of chaos!  I have seen it happen for job seeker after job seeker.  I have watched them go from being overwhelmed to feeling in control.  I've seen chaos replaced by calm and order.  I’ve seen “I don’t know where to start” replaced by “I know what to do next.”
They crafted their marketing plan!

Here's what happens:  As job seekers begin to understand the multitude of tasks they have before them in searching all the avenues that could lead to their next job, they can become overwhelmed by the sheer mass of information and the number of things to do.  With so many companies to explore, leads to follow, ads to apply for, people to contact, meetings to attend . . . . . it can all leave a job seeker’s head spinning.  The antidote:  a way to capture the information, organize it, and not lose valuable leads.

And, that's where having a plan to approach the employment market comes in!  A formalized, structured approach can help.  That structure is your Marketing PlanPlease refer to the template for a marketing plan, that can be found by clicking on the tab "Tools You Can Use" in the AJC website, and follow along as you read this article.

Your marketing plan is another of your sales & marketing tools.  Remember, finding a job is about selling yourself and follows a sales process.  For best results, or in today’s tough marketplace, any results at all, your approach to marketing yourself can not be happenstance.   (Please refer to please refer to my article,  “ Looking for a Job?  . . . . You are in Sales!” in the Planning and Strategy section of the AJC website.)  So, use a marketing plan to conduct a better search.  Here's how to fill it out:

Marketing Plan Step 1:   Your Job Search Objective
As with any sale, your first step is to identify your objective.  In other words, what is it you want to accomplish in your job search?
Ask yourself:
    (1)  What type of job do you want to do? 
    (2)  Where do you want to work? 
    (3)  How much time do you want to devote to performing that job? 

    (4)  Begin to fill in the Marketing Plan Template as you identify the objective of your job search.

“For your eyes only”  --  It is important to recognize that the Objective on your marketing plan is there just to assist YOU.  It is there to help YOU get focused on what you really want to do.  However, an additional use can be that when you are networking, you may want to take out your marketing plan and show it to your contact as an aid to help them help you.  (Remember that resumes which DO NOT contain objectives; your Career Summary does the job, on a resume, of telling your reader about the type of job you can do and want.)   

Marketing Plan Step 2:   Competencies & Skills
Next come competencies  – areas of skill, ability, knowledge, and behavior that are integral to the job you want to do.  To get at your competencies, think of roles and tasks you perform very well.   For instance, you may excel at training, coaching, and communications.  These are 3 of your areas of competency and can lead to jobs performing each as a separate job, or in some combination, such as you would find in the job, for instance, of a communications specialist requiring training and communications abilities, or a employee relations manager role that requires coaching of employees and training workshops.

Or, let’s say you are good at managing people and finances, and at overseeing operations in your department.  You could identify separate jobs for each of these 3 areas, or possibly find a job requiring 2 of the 3 - such as accounting supervisor, requiring both management of people and knowledge of finance.  Or, a job for a manufacturing process improvement specialist could require both operations management and the supervision of employees. 

Ask yourself:  What are your areas of competency?  List 1, 2 or 3 (4 maximum) areas that you would describe as your main areas of competency that (a.) you are really good at and (b.) that you would also like to work in. 
    (1)  Identify these areas of competency on your Marketing Plan in the areas marked Competency 1, 2, and 3.
    (2)  Underneath each competency, identify the major skills that you use in performing the competency, in the section titled Competency skills. 

For instance, let’s say you identify training as one competency you possess.  You have experience training employees or colleagues to perform a work task.  You decide you like doing training, are pretty good at it, and would like a job as a trainer, or at least one requiring you to spend some of your time training employees, co-workers, or customers of the organization.

Here's how to do it:
1.  Begin by writing the word "Training" in the space listed on the Marketing Plan as Competency 1.
2.  Now ask yourself:  What skills are required of a trainer?
3.  Make a list of these underneath Competency 1 in the space titled: Competency skills.  Your list might include such skills as: presentation skills, good verbal and written communication skills, ability to organize information in a logical way, conflict management and mediation skills to guide trainees when they disagree, information dissemination to advertise your training programs, coaching, follow-up, etc.  
4. Continue the process for another 1 or 2 competencies that you possess, that you want to perform in your next job or role, and that a company would hire you to do. 

Note:  While the primary focus is on listing your skills, because it tells a company what YOU CAN DO for them, you may also want to list areas of ability, knowledge, and behaviors that are important to performing the competency.

Marketing Plan Step 3:   Target Industries & Target Companies/Organizations
If finding a job is a sales process – and it is all about selling yourself   – then the next step becomes that of finding someone to buy what you are selling:  your area(s) of competency.    Let’s say that you have experience working in an insurance agency and in a retail clothing chain of stores. 

Ask yourself:  Where would your skills as a trainer and communications specialist likely be used?  You liked working in the insurance agency, and like the financial aspect of it; you did not like working in stores.  So, possible target industries would certainly include the insurance industry (Target Industry 1).  Another closely aligned industry could be banking (Target Industry 2).  And, a third industry could be training (Target Industry 3), such as in a company that sells training services.
    (1)  Identify 1 to 3 Target Industries on your Marketing Plan. 
    (2)  Underneath each industry, identify Target Companies and/or Organizations, within each target industry you list that might use your skills and hire you.

Here's how to do it:
1.  Begin by writing the word "Insurance" in the space listed on the Marketing Plan as Industry 1.
2.  Now ask yourself:  What are some companies or organizations in the insurance industry that I can identify and look into that might employ a trainer or use have positions that use training skills?
3.  Make a list of these underneath Industry 1 in the space titled:  Target orgs.
4.  Continue same the process for Target Industry 2 and Target Industry 3.

Your Marketing Plan is a work in progress. 
It will evolve as you research and explore potential opportunities.  Companies and even industries may drop off and new ones will be added..  The same is true for Competencies, and even skills.  Like your resume, the marketing plan is never done.  It continues to evolve as you learn more about the employment marketplace as well as how it might best employ all the talents and experience you bring to it.

Order out of chaos!
 Now, when your contacts mention a great company, or you hear of an organization on the news that looks interesting, you have a place and method for capturing and making use of the information.  Instead of thoughts and plans and information whirling around in your head, and scraps of paper with notes you hope floating around your desk and in your briefcase, you have a structure to capture and retain information. and then use it for your search.  Gone are the thoughts of, "Gee, I hope I don't forget this."  You have, in effect, created order out of chaos!
For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
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